My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a wonderful book. Ambelin Kwaymullina has created a believable and disturbing world where those with “talents” are considered to be abnormal. Ashala is part of The Tribe, who live in the Firstwood in exile. Still learning the full exent of her abilities, Ashala is captured and taken to a detention centre where she is held prisoner by her former ally, Justin Connor, under the powers of Chief Administrator Neville Rose. There, with her abilities blocked by a collar, she is tortured with a machine that can pull memories from her mind.
There is genuine tension built in the accomplished first novel. The real prospect of Ashala being forced to give up her secrets and her feeling of helplessness are tangible. Of course, that is not to say she gives up – quite the contrary. She is a fighter – tencacious and quick thinking, she gives the guards and Rose plenty to think about.
No spoliers here, but there is a second book in the series (released late 2013) so it is okay to get invested in the characters!
Kwaymullina’s portrayal of a dystopian world is effectively realised, with all the characters feeling quite fleshed out, even when they only seem like bit players. Perhaps that is groundwork for the next book. Whatever it is, it works really well. More please.
Ages 13 and up.